Notes of synthetic, humid, dark (as the name goes) rose, benzoin, quite a lot of patchouli, perhaps a boozy note too, and shortly after the opening, an oak moss note which an unexpected thickness and pleasant rich texture. I don't get any oud honestly, or it may be what I think was oak moss plus something boozy. A dark scent for sure, a rich and thick gloomy chypre centered on rose, with a metallic-camphoraceous aftertaste that somehow sadly "ruins" this sort of gothic ambiance, taking away a bit of its charm and deepness. Nonetheless the scent works, it's quite unpretentious and a bit cheap, so don't expect this to be some less expensive replacement for Lyric Man or other costly (and far more richer and compelling) "dark rose" scents. It smells masculine, but more like unexpensive and obscure chypres of the '80s – not the fascinating ones, rather the cheap ones. I've heard that this scent was much better some years ago when it was formulated and manufactured by Forester Milano, before C&S took back the manufacturing process in England. Other scents apparently did not suffer this change while this one did - this is just something I've heard and I am not sure if that is true, although I know there is two versions of this (you can tell the difference by the cap, the previous version had a golden cap, while now it's black). Plus anyway I did not try the "first" version and I can only speak for the current one. Which is nice, "if you have to", but nothing to really bother about.
Here's another rose-oud composition to sink your teeth into. Unfortunately there is little meat on this dish. The delightfully jammy rose is gone too soon and all I'm left with is the 'dark'. More like being left in the dark rather, for the oud is just as elusive. The structure however remains intact; the rose-oud accord receding into a close-wearing skin scent. Against the crop of rose-oud scents currently in the market, Dark Rose's reticent nature gives it a snowball's chance in hell. But I actually find the restrained approach admirable.
Czech & Speake’s Dark Rose opens up all oudh and roses, rather like Montale’s Black Aoud diluted down to half the concentration. The oudh-rose accord tends toward the stark and monumental, and like many scents based on this combination Dark Rose remains in olfactory stasis for quite some time. The basic character is - well - dark rose, balanced by the slightly caustic, medicinal character of oudh and a generous helping of saffron. If you like the Montale oudh scents in principle, but find them overwhelming, Dark Rose will no doubt appeal.
The rose in Dark Rose sweetens over the course of hours, taking on a “jammy” or liqueur-like character, while the oudh mellows and eventually makes way for some dry sandalwood and vetiver. The Directory entry lists Dark Rose as “feminine,” but with all that wood and the bitter edge on the rose, I’d consider it comfortably gender neutral. It’s certainly no more “girly” than other recent roses for men, such as Amouage Lyric. I must admit though that I’m slightly puzzled by Dark Rose’s presence in the Czech & Speake lineup. The firm already offers No. 88, which while admittedly even darker and more complex, is awfully similar in style and composition.
I had the misfortune to sample Dark Rose just days after encountering Amouage’s brilliant Homage, where oudh and rose travel on an entirely different, and I must say, higher plane. Seen in light of Homage, the more daring Montale oudh scents, and Czech & Speake’s own No. 88, Dark Rose seems tame – even a bit bland – and possibly superfluous.
Not a big oud fan but this smells pretty good. A nice mix of oud and rose which is slightly soapy upon initial application. As others have mentioned, this smells very similar to Montale's Black Oud. 7/10
Before Montale's onslaught of oud/rose combinations, there also existed Dark Rose by Czech & Speake. It seems to have disappeared for a while, been reformulated, and released once again to pander after the oud-crazed masses.
Dark Rose smells like port and leather at first, is joined by geranium (much quieter here than in its sibling, Rose 88), and then proceeds to a forgettable musky finish. Oud Cuir d'Arabie, whose middle stages DR is reminiscent of, is superior for its initial daring and rosier drydown.
Another in the legion of fragrances where the head and heart are arresting, but the booty resolutely refuses to swing. The vibrant saffron at the start (which had me sniffing the bottle several times during the day) is gone in minutes; the rose and oud, mysterious and handled with a light touch, subside in an hour. All that's left is a residual sweetness, a puff of sandal and synthetic musk. If they could have hung on to the seduction of the opening a bit longer this would have been quite something.